780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, MA . Off Route 7, (about 1.5 miles) near the Pittsfield-Lenox line. 413-442-1793. In 1850, seeking to escape what he later called "the Babylonish brick-kiln of New York," Herman Melville gave in to his yearning "to feel the grass" and moved with his family to the Berkshires. He had already published two tales of his South Sea adventures, Typee and Omoo; at Arrowhead he took off on the grand literary whale hunt that was to be Moby Dick. As the home of the Berkshire County Historical Society, Arrowhead offers excellent guided tours through the house. The barn behind the house is the site of cultural programs such as literary readings and historical talks. A fascinating video about Berkshire literary figures and artists is also offered, which runs for about 20 minutes. Admission fee
The Bidwell House
Art School Rd., Monterey, MA. 413-528-6888. The newest old house on the historic home circuit. One of the oldest homes dating from 1750, Bidwell is surrounded by 200 acres of pristine Monterey woodland. The house is situated deep in the woods where it hosts an active schedule of lectures, workshops and hikes. Open Memorial Day - Columbus Day, Tues.-Sun., holidays, 11a.m. - 4 p.m. Admission $4 Adults; $3 Seniors; $2 Children.
Off Rt. 183, in Glendale. 413-298-3579. Chesterwood is the former home of sculptor Daniel Chester French and his wife. Once the Old Warner Farm and Boys School in the Glendale section of Stockbridge, Chesterwood was reborn into a grand residence with a studio and garden complex that reflect French's artistry. Visit the estate today and you'll feel French's ability to sculpt that strength. In his studio, filled with memorabilia, guests are invited to handle sculpting tools. French designed magnificent gardens, and these are maintained meticulously today after his fashion by the property's management, the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Periodically throughout the property, contemporary sculpture is exhibited. Open May - Oct. daily, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission free. Gift Shop.
Holley House Museum
Rt. 44/Millertoon Rd. in the Lakeville Historic District in northwestern, CT. 860-435-2878. At the Holley House Museum, guests are transported back in time to the year 1876 where you will discover the choices and challenges which faced men and women in 19th century America. The original iron master's house was built in 1768 and remodeled in 1808 in the Classical Revival style. Personal belongings spanning the Holley and Williams families' continuous residence from 1808 to 1971, create a lived-in ambience in this upscale Victorian home. Included among the collections are 18th- and 19th-century family furnishings, portraits by noted itinerant painters and a Holley Manufacturing Company pocketknife exhibit from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The Holley House Museum is designed for family visits, with many exhibits and programs intended to appeal to every age. Children will enjoy the hands-on activities in the Salisbury Cannon Museum, the "From Corsets to Freedom," kitchen exhibit, the Schoolhouse Maze and the Holley House treasure hunt. At the Ice House, learn how ice was harvested in the days before refrigeration. The museum is open on weekends and holidays from mid-June to mid-October, from noon - 5 p.m. Special events year 'round. Self-guided visitation to the ice house, outhouse, demonstration gardens, maze, children's cannon museum and "From Corsets to Freedom" exhibit is free. Admission to the house tour is $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and free for children under five.
The Quaker Meeting House
(Corner of Maple Street and West Road, Adams.) The Quaker Meeting House is the most important historical landmark in Adams. Inside and out it is a timeless, architectural gem. The interior reveals the exposed timber frame characteristic of 18th century construction. Stepping into this house is a journey back to the times of pioneers. The Quakers or Friends as they called themselves, were the pioneer people who first settled the tract of land that became Adams. They were a religious denomination who came from the Smithfield, Rhode Island area. The Friends lived in Adams for 15 years before starting to build the meeting house in 1782. They finished it four years later. The meeting house, like many Quaker homes, was built with very little ornamentation and left unpainted. In 1976 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, at which time repairs were made. Re-clapboarding and funds for future maintenance was made possible by a 1988 matching grant from the Preservation Project Funds of the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the taxpayers of the town of Adams. The meeting house is open to visitors on Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 1-4 p.m. On the last Sunday in August, the Society of Friends Descendents hold an Annual Meeting which includes a half hour of silence and a speaker.
The Merwin House
14 W. Main St., Stockbridge, MA. 413-298-4703. In the center of Stockbridge. "Tranquility," is the former home of Mrs. Vipont Merwin and is a bit of the 19th-century refinement stopped in time. A charming brick mansion, the Merwin House was built about 1825 and is filled with period antiques. The furnishings and collectibles reflect global travel and domestic dignity. The house is maintained as a property of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. For Stockbridge strollers, evening views through the multipaned front windows give an inviting glimpse of an elegant world gone by. Open June 1 - Oct. 15; Tues., Thurs., Sat., and Sun., noon - 5 p.m. Admission $4 Adults, $3.50 Seniors, $2.50 Children (over 12).
On Plunkett St., Lenox, near southern junction of rtes. 7 & 7A. 413-637-1899; 888-637-1902. In February 1901, the writer and heiress Edith Wharton arrived at the Curtis Hotel in Lenox for a week in the country. She had summered in the area for the preceding two years, and now, having found the "watering trivialities of Newport" all but intolerable, sought a new site on which to realize the design principles incorporated in her book, The Decoration of Houses. The Georgian Revival house was modeled on Christopher Wren's Belton House in Lincolnshire, England. Elegant throughout, the Mount boasts marble floors and fireplaces, and lovely gardens. The National Trust for Historic Preservation bought the Mount to save it from commercial exploitation. Edith Wharton Restoration, Inc, whose work was praised by Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit to the Mount in July 1998, runs the house today. Since 1980 Shakespeare & Co. has been performing Shakespeare and plays based on Wharton's years at the Mount, winning national critical acclaim. Admission fee.